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A statue in honor of the Olympic champion Dr. Ronnie Delany was officially revealed today (Friday) in his hometown of Arklow.
On the occasion, President Michael D. Higgins sent a special message identifying Ronnie Delany as “a true sports legend and a wonderful ambassador for Ireland”.
Dr. Born in County Wicklow on March 6, 1935, Delany was previously honored by Wicklow County Council with a 2016 Citizens’ Reception and the naming of a housing estate after him in 2019.
Statue of Olympic champion Ronnie Delany unveiled in Arklow
Ronnie Delany gained international fame when he won a gold medal in the 1,500m race at the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia on December 1, 1956, at the age of 21 by Aer Lingus and the B&I shipping company.
In 2006, Dr. Delany granted the freedom of the city of Dublin. In the same year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from University College Dublin. In 2013 Villanova University named Ronald M. Delany a Doctor of Humane Letters. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in 2009.
After the previous honors in his hometown, it was decided to continue honoring Arklow’s famous son with a sculpture to honor his remarkable achievement. Renowned sculptor Paul Ferriter was hired to bring the famous 1956 event to life.
Wicklow County Council’s Leas Cathaoirleach, Cllr Tommy Annesley, welcomed the guests for today’s unveiling, and said he appreciated the dedication it takes to earn athletic honors. Ronnie had accomplished more than most, culminating in winning the ultimate honor, an Olympic gold medal.
“This statue is no more than Ronnie deserves, and I am honored to be here this afternoon to join Ronnie and his family and friends to pay this special tribute to one of Arklow’s finest,” he said, adding added: “Statues are very rare. and are reserved for special people who have achieved something extraordinary – and Ronnie did just that. “
Cllr Annesley thanked all sponsors who contributed to this wonderful commission and thanked the sculptor Paul Ferriter for his skillful portrayal of Ronnie in his prime.
Wicklow County Council chief executive Frank Curran said Wicklow County Council’s decision in 2016 to commission a statue to honor Arklow’s Olympic gold medalist Dr Council. He said: “It is a fitting tribute to an athlete who beat everyone else in the 1500m final at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.”
He thanked everyone involved in the project, the local committee set up by the Arklow City team; Michael Nicholson, Director of Services, and all of his employees and Arklow Borough staff. He also paid tribute to the elected members who have supported the project from the start.
Mr. Curran had no doubt that people would be as impressed by this statue as he was and by how sculptor Paul Ferriter Dr. Ronnie Delany has captured in a unique way. He congratulated Mr. Ferriter on his wonderful job.
He added, “When we get out of the effects of COVID and return to normal, this statue, located at the entrance to Ronnie’s birthplace Arklow, will act as a beacon to signal that cities are back to growth after COVID. This investment by the council, coupled with other major developments in Arklow, such as the sewage treatment plant and soil relief, will enable the city to realize its full potential as a place of prosperity. “
Arklow Borough Cathaoirleach Cllr Miriam Murphy said this was a very special day “honoring one of ours,” and explained how Ronnie was born in Arklow. She added, “In fact, we are practically in his front yard as he lived a stone’s throw from this place. Only a very small number of athletes have won Olympic medals for Ireland, and gold medals are particularly rare, so Ronnie’s gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 was really something special.
“We honored Ronnie with a citizens’ reception in 2016 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his great triumph. There is also a housing estate in Arklow called Delany Park in honor of Ronnie. And now we have the ultimate honor for Ronnie. This wonderful statue greets everyone who arrives in Arklow and it will serve as a reminder of his great achievements as an Arklow born athlete. ”Cllr Murphy made a special welcome to Ronnie’s wife, Joan and his extended family.
Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey said Ronnie Delany is the icon in Irish athletic history. “His athletic achievements are legendary and he has served as the inspiration for successive Irish athletes who have achieved international success at Olympic and World Championships,” he said.
He continued, “At the raw young age of 21, this lanky youthful figure puzzled the greats of the sporting world by winning gold in the 1,500 meter final at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, a record time of 3.41.2, and he was then only the seventh man who cracked the four-minute mark in this prestigious race. “
Mr. Mulvey explained how Ronnie won many races around the world, he was the “King of the Boards” in the USA, where the competition was strongest, and he became a living legend of international sporting achievements.
Dr. Delany expressed his gratitude and said he was honored and privileged to have the statue erected for him.